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Retailers delivered this holiday season


The majority of retailers managed to keep their shipping promises this holiday.

That’s according to Kurt Salmon’s annual Holiday Shipping study, which found that 97% of retailers successfully processed and delivered orders to customers on their last guaranteed shipping date before Christmas. according to Kurt Salmon’s (part of Accenture Strategy) annual Holiday Shipping study. This compares to 87% in 2014 and 95% in 2015.

On a less positive note, the analysis also found that at least 20% of retailers moved forward their deadline, or dropped the ‘guaranteed’ from the delivery promise due to last minute weather and capacity concerns. The overall high success rate shows that the conservative approach allowed retailers and carriers to be successful in a very challenging environment.

The study measured the ability of 32 retailers across a broad range of categories to fulfil customer orders on their last guaranteed shipping date before Christmas. Key findings include:

• The top three retailers were all luxury brands. Saks Fifth Avenue allowed for orders on the 23rd, and Coach and Nordstrom allowed customers to order up until the 22nd with standard shipping and still receive their orders by Christmas. Shipping was free for all these retailers.

• At least 15% of retailers moved their last ship date forward in the weeks leading up to Christmas, which was the first time that the study had captured this in action.

• The year 2016 was the first time since the study began that the average ship date actually got earlier (20th in 2016 versus the 21st in 2015).

• Retailers who had enabled the omnichannel functionality of ‘Buy Online Pick Up in Store’ (BOPUS) actually allowed for last minute shoppers to order up until 6pm on Christmas Eve and pick up their items in the store that night.

• Many retailers refined their messaging in the week leading up to Christmas to drive this service, allowing for last minute sales to be captured without the risk of weather or an overloaded carrier network to lead to broken promises on Christmas.

“While customers may have been surprised by the movement in the guaranteed last shipping date, retailers cautiousness paid off with a higher success rate, leaving no one empty handed on Christmas morning,” said Steve Osburn, managing director at Kurt Salmon, part of Accenture Strategy. “With online sales continuing to rise, retailers have to ensure they are operationally competent to deliver on time, they have the ability to change direction at a moment’s notice, and offer flexible delivery alternatives such as ‘buy online, pick-up in-store’, or risk customer disappointment which can be damaging to even the most loyal relationships.”
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